The Riverfront, Newport (livestream), Tue 29 June
The setup of Possible is simple and fun, the set a four-sided white screen. We move away from these projection screens to a booth, enrobed in black and housing a microphone, that frames the performers face in complete focus. The contrast is accentuated as this one-man show’s sole performer, Shôn Dale-Jones, moves between the screens and the booth. Joined by a passing feed of video footage, we engage with the performer in real time.
Possible has the energy of a production full of hope. Dale-Jones’ long gray hair and beard qualify his status as a bard, a storyteller: that’s his way of making sense of the world. His enthusiasm is catching; his smile captures us from the beginning, and he leads us deftly by the hand through his engaging monologue, taking in family, ongoing grief and love. This is something that Possible represents, the sharing of our lives and the disruption, confusion and misdirection introduced by the pandemic.
We hear of the hiker who tells his story of what he saw from the three highest peaks, relative to his challenges on the way back down. We’re shown an image of the performer’s mum’s chair overlooking the seaside, which feels resonant – many of us have been apart from the people we love the most – and peek into his family WhatsApp group, with its warning siren. Dale-Jones’ mother’s way of relieving stress is by making scones; as someone who spent much of lockdown going back to skills I learned as a child – weaving, knitting, painting, gardening, baking – I found myself reminiscing about my own family stories. Light is interspersed by shade in jarring, surreal fashion, with Possible featuring a recurring, interrupting – and inconclusive – thought process regarding a schoolmaster and a bedwetting incident.
Sound technician Jon Biddle, praised for his “great job” in my recent interview with Dale-Jones, creates an immersive, psychedelic feeling as time and space moves between in-person narrative and virtual reality. Modulating his voice as part of the musical moments which underpin Possible, Biddle’s tunes are really catchy to boot.
This show, the latest production by National Theatre Wales ahead of their return to performing in front of live audiences once more, is willfully strange in some ways but transmits simple messages: hope, joy, living in the moment, boldly making decisions without the worry of regretting them later on. In having this time to reflect on our rush in life pre-COVID, I hope we all think about slowing down the pace of our life in order to enjoy the small pleasures again.
Possible is available to watch in your own time from Tue 6-Tue 13 July. Info and booking: here
words BILLIE INGRAM SOFOKLEOUS
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